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Divorce and the Stay-at-Home Dad

Stay-at-home dads, once an anomaly, has now become practically a cultural norm. Yahoo recently published a survey about the rising phenomenon of dads who stay at home with their children while their wives or partners are the primary “bread winners.”

In that Yahoo survey there was interesting trend to be seen—while 23 percent of stay-at-home dads said they did so because they weren’t able to find work, a significant and ever-growing portion (21 percent) said they made the choice because it’s what they wanted to do.

It can be an exciting trend to see dads taking a hands-on parenting role while women are expanded their roles outside of the home, but at the same time there are other less encouraging statistics relating to stay-at-home dads.

Many research studies are showing that stay-at-home dads face a higher risk of divorce and much like stay-at-home moms, if their marriage ends these dads may find themselves in a difficult financial position. They may also face the worry of losing custody of their children.

In fact, the American Journal of Sociology published a study a few years back showing that for unemployed married fathers, a lack of employment is a greater predictor of divorce when compared with overall unhappiness in the relationships.

Stay-at-home dads, while they have come a long way in recent years, also tend to face a tremendous amount of scrutiny from outsiders, whether it be other parents or their own family members. This type of pressure can also lead to general discontent and perhaps be a predictor of divorce.

For stay-at-home dads, there are some things to remember if you are headed toward divorce, and some particular topics you should certainly discuss with your divorce lawyer:

  • Men tend to be more reluctant to want to fight for things like alimony, even if they’re a stay-at-home dad. It’s important to remember that you’ve contributed a great deal to your marriage as a stay at home parent, regardless of what sex you happen to be and you should fight for the assets you deserve as a result of your contribution.
  • Try to be the first to file, if possible. Stay-at-home parents, whether it be moms or dads, can be more reluctant to file since they may feel more afraid because of their financial situations, but the person who files first tends to have a legal advantage in many cases.
  • Begin gathering information and proof that will show how you care for your children every day. You need to be able to establish the role you have in your children’s lives as a stay-at-home dad. Oftentimes gathering this type of proof can also come down to having witnesses who can not just say you’ve been a great dad, but go in-depth as to how you care for your children on a daily basis.
  • Be clear with your divorce attorney on what it is you want. It’s going to require negotiation, but if you’re not clear on what you’re seeking during your divorce, you’re not going to get it.

If you’re a stay-at-home dad contemplating a divorce, contact a Rhode Island divorce lawyer who can help you understand your rights and what your next steps should be.